Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Did IDEM Violate Indiana's Open Door Law?

Shocking to think that any such thing would happen under Mitch Daniels but Counselor to rule in BP phone records dispute was in last week's Indiana Lawyer.
"Indiana's public access counselor is investigating whether environmental officials violated public records laws by failing to release complete records of phone calls made about the time of a public hearing on the BP Whiting oil refinery's air permit.

Public Access Counselor Heather Neal is expected to issue an official opinion by June 26 on a complaint by the Post-Tribune of Merrillville about public records.

The northwest Indiana newspaper filed the complaint last month after the Indiana Department of Environmental Management said it did not have all the itemized cell phone records requested.

The newspaper had asked for records of cell phone calls made Feb. 1 through March 20 by Dan Murray, assistant commissioner of the agency's Office of Air Quality. That included March 14, the date of a public hearing on BP's air permit.

IDEM said it didn't have records for Murray's calls for the month around the hearing and that it only receives itemized bills when Murray goes over his allotted minutes. After the Post-Tribune filed the complaint, IDEM found more records with assistance from the state Office of Technology, which it said keeps the records."

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